Header Image: 
A family prepares a healthy dinner, green salad, green beans, ground beef and mashed potatoes, together.


Simpson County, Mississippi

A woman sitting at a table with a bag of fresh fruits and vegetables.

It all began a couple of years ago. Both my children were in elementary school, and Ms. Lockhart was their health teacher. And my son, Austin, came home, and at supper one night, he told me, “Mama, I want you to get healthy!”

So I heard him out, and he was telling me what Ms. Lockhart said. But he continued, and my daughter, Rayne, did, too. Every time they would go to her class, they would come home and say, “Ms. Lockhart said, Ms. Lockhart said.” And so I told them, “If I’m going to get healthy, then the whole family has to get healthy. It has to be a lifestyle change.”

And we just, as a family, made some changes. One of them was taking snack cakes out of the house. It thought that would deter my children from talking about it again, but it didn’t. They said that was good with them! We just continue with the plan.

My children were really the instigators. Each week, they would come home and tell me something new, like, “Mama, we need to go walking more.” So we started walking. And then they would come home and tell me about portion control. So we would cut down on our portions.

We have incorporated it as a lifestyle, instead of just a diet.

As soon as I get off work, when I walk in the door, we sit down as a family to eat. So I prepare meals within 30 to 45 minutes. And, because of the portion control and the change to healthier foods, it became easier. It’s easier and faster to fix a salad than to fix a big lasagna, for example.

With the lessons from Ms. Lockhart and the persistence and encouragement of my children, I have lost 65 pounds, and I quit smoking.

I can tell the difference in my work. I can tell it in my daily activities. I can tell when I go to the ballgame with my kids. I’m not the tired mom sitting on the bleachers, I’m on the sidelines cheering.

We have healthy family time, too. We definitely sit down every night, as a family, to eat. But also during that walk we have, after our meal, we get to talk and just share things that usually we wouldn’t share because we were just out doing other things. Putting the exercise with our eating just gives us more family time.

My kids want me to be active in what they’re active in. So, when I began listening to them about their health class, that opened doors to listen to more, about everything.

We get a lot more family time, a lot more activity time, a lot more mom and dad and the kids on the same page. It makes a big difference in a family.

What are the most important things you’ve learned?

I think portion control is the first thing. I had to learn that I didn’t need seconds. I needed to learn what a healthy portion was, not just for me, but for my kids, also.

It’s also being able to afford healthy foods. You just have to go in and do some research, because the healthy foods are available at low cost, if you really search for those items.

And just continuing it daily, not letting it be a diet, but letting it be a lifestyle change. Because you can break a diet. But, if you make a lifestyle change, it is something you’re going to always do.